Dallas Mavericks 128, New York Knicks 78

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 25, 2010 under Recaps | 4 Comments to Read

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images.

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOr
Dallas91.0140.765.119.829.411.0
New York85.736.024.438.618.7

Every act of creation is, first of all, an act of destruction.
-Pablo Picasso

How do you even begin to make sense of a game like that? It was the largest win in franchise history. It was an on-court massacre unlike anything we’ve even dreamed of, and it was so violently actualized that children would probably have been best served covering their eyes. The Mavs didn’t even need Jason Kidd, who missed the game for personal reasons, to post their season best in offensive efficiency (140.7 points per 100 possessions). And they didn’t need Erick Dampier, who missed the game due to his knee effusion, to register their most effective defense performance since November 13th (85.7 points allowed per 100 possessions). The Mavs were shorted a critical piece on both ends of the court, and still went on to pillage Madison Square Garden and burn it to the ground.

The first quarter was competitive, but by the end of the second the Mavs had established a double-digit lead that would only grow and grow. They held the Knicks to just 13 points in the third frame, while pouring in an incredible 38 of their own. There was no specific dominance; Dirk (20 points, 6-12 FG, five rebounds) and Terry (20 points, 8-12 FG, 4-6 3FG, four assists) shared the honor for the team-high in points, but they were two of just seven Mavs in double figures. The real question isn’t which Mavs did well, but which ones didn’t. And the real answer is…well, no one. 11 Mavs logged minutes, each scored at least four points, and everyone but James Singleton shot over 50% from the field. Even the seldom used Matt Carroll finished with seven points on 3-4 FG, the highest total of his Maverick career.

It’s indisputable that the Mavs played fabulously on Sunday. You don’t win a game by 50 points playing so-so, good, or even great basketball. This was a once-in-a-something collision of white-hot offense, terrific defense, and an opponent that isn’t particularly great at either. But once we’re a day removed, what does this win even mean?

For one, it shows what the Mavs are capable of. This team isn’t offensively challenged, even if they’ve seemed that way throughout most of the season. And while I wouldn’t expect such ridiculous production every night, this collection of players has clearly been underachieving on that end of the court. Josh Howard and Jason Terry’s struggles are well-documented, but just as crucial is finding scoring elsewhere; Drew Gooden (15 points, 18 rebounds, two blocks), J.J. Barea, and the rest of the reserves are still a bit inconsistent, and though they don’t need to necessarily be dependable on an individual basis, there needs to be some accountability among the bench collective. Again, don’t expect them to reach this level of production or efficiency (and definitely not opportunity) on the regular, but when called upon, the reserves need to respond as they did on Sunday.

Also, it shows that the offense is capable of performing without the calming influence of Jason Kidd. J.J. Barea (11 points, four assists, three rebounds, two steals) and Rodrigue Beaubois (13 points, 5-8 FG, 3-6 3FG, five assists, six rebounds, five turnovers) did a tremendous job of keeping the ball moving, and the team totaled 25 assists without their primary facilitator and statistical leader in that category. That’s an impressive feat considering how many points the Mavs were able to put on the board, and an even more impressive one considering the substantial playing time and production of nontraditional offensive threats. Dallas was able to rest its starters plenty, and in doing so, should have experienced some a drop-off in offensive production; instead, a fourth quarter that prominently featured Beaubois, Matt Carroll, Quinton Ross, James Singleton, and Tim Thomas (a lineup that played the final eight minutes) actually managed to add to the lead by scoring 31 points in the fourth quarter to the Knicks’ 22.

Beyond that, it’s impossible to say. All we can hope is that team-wide production trends upward after such a dominant performance, and that the Mavs find themselves a way to level out and resolve their consistency issues.

Oh, and if you’ll allow me to step away from the season contrasts and the bigger picture for just a second: Your Dallas Mavericks just beat a team by 50 points. Fifty. Points. Despite how negative my assertions may seem in this recap, nothing on this planet can take away the fact that the Mavs completely obliterated another NBA team by an ungodly margin. They played what was probably the closest thing to flawless basketball I’ve seen out of a Maverick team ever. It’s almost unfair to expect more than that, but a game’s just a game and the Mavs have miles to go before they sleep.

Closing thoughts:

  • As is to be expected in a game like this, the Mavs provided plenty of fuel for the highlight reel. James Singleton threw down a monstrous jam. Tim Thomas worked baseline for a contested throw-down. And Roddy Beaubois brought out the oooohs and ahhhhs with this.
  • Drew Gooden’s plus/minus for the night? +41. Unbelievable.
  • A fifty-point blowout, an empty-the-bench fourth quarter, and Eddie Najera still doesn’t play. Still waiting on Najera’s first minute on his second stint with the Mavs.
  • Josh Howard came off the bench again, with J.J. Barea taking the place of Jason Kidd in the starting lineup. Drew Gooden started in place of Erick Dampier, giving the Mavs a starting five of Barea, Terry, Marion, Nowitzki, Gooden.
  • Beaubois was getting playing time as early as the first quarter, and was clearly determined to make an impact. Sometimes that resulted in turnovers, but sometimes it resulted in spectacular plays (both offensively and defensively) for himself and his teammates. Roddy has a lot of growing up to do before he’s ready for a full-time gig, but this guy is still ready, and waiting, to contribute.
  • Josh Howard didn’t hav ea great game, but he had a tidy seven points on six shots, and played some nice perimeter defense. Howard still struggles to defend the post, though…which probably sounds worse than it is given the lack of small forwards with real skill down low.
  • Jared Jeffries, who is averaging 4.6 PPG for the season, dropped 12 points in the first quarter on 4-6 shooting. A little surprising to say the least, especially if you’re familiar with Jeffries’ limited offensive game. And somewhat predictably, he missed all of his field goals the rest of the way, and added just two more points off of free throws.

GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: The Gold Star of the Night goes to Rodrigue Beaubois. If you’re going to make me pick and choose between all of the Maverick contributors, I’m going to tag the guy who hasn’t played many meaningful minutes in the past month and a half. He’s a truly engaging player, and though his opportunity may not come today, games like these keep us looking forward to tomorrow.



Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 13, 2010 under xOther | Read the First Comment

  • Kelly Dwyer on the Lakers’ rough night last night: “The Lakers are beat to hell – Ron Artest, Jordan Farmar, and a guy named Kobe Bryant are in pain; Pau Gasol didn’t even play – and they were on the road. Topping that, they’re the champs. The last bit means teams have it out for them. It means teams get up for the best. And while Tim Duncan has never needed an excuse to rule the entire half-court defensively, he easily turned in his best defensive performance of the season against Los Angeles. Every angle was covered.”
  • And just in case you’re not quite getting it, here’s Brian Kamenetzky with a laundry list of Laker injuries: “Start with injuries. L.A.’s entered the game dealing with the slow burn of Kobe Bryant’s fractured right index finger and Pau Gasol’s improving hamstring. Over the ensuing 48 minutes, they added Ron Artest’s right hand- one he spent most of the second half clutching before leaving the game with 4:11 remaining- a hamstring injury for Sasha Vujacic  limiting him to 3:06 of playing time, a sore throat for Adam Morrison…oh, and did I mention Kobe spent the fourth quarter in the locker room getting treatment for back spasms? So easy to overlook the minor details, right?”
  • Josh Howard is expected to play tonight, but Erick Dampier and Tim Thomas are questionable. Dampier could be the biggest blow of all; we’ve had the distinct displeasure of seeing how the Lakers can dissect a Damp-less Maverick defense, and while the Lakers are even more banged up this time around (remember, that horrible loss was without Ron Artest and largely without Pau Gasol), I’d still much prefer it if Damp could find a way onto the floor. Knee effusions aren’t something you want to mess with, but the Mavs need Damp tonight.
  • The Mavs are projected to have a home record of 27-14, which would be among their worst of the decade. The players and coaches are saying all the right things, but this is one of those tricky psychological problems that’s easy to notice but far more difficult to solve.
  • John Hollinger, on Twitter (@johnhollinger): “Southwest Division: Five teams over .500. Entire Eastern Conference: Four teams over .500.” The Grizzlies and the Hornets are making a run at the playoffs, and from where I’m sitting, the Southwest is the best division inbasketball. The other two divisions in the West each boast some impressive teams, but they also have dead weight in the Timberwolves and the Warriors. The worst team in the West is a game over .500, and that’s beyond impressive.
  • Dirk Nowitzki is a hop and a skip (no jump necessary) away from 20,000 career points. Get ready for the standing ovation.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 11, 2010 under xOther | 5 Comments to Read

  • Fish points out that Dirk Nowitzki is among the league leaders in plus/minus, and that is impressive. But even more impressive is that Dirk is among the league leaders in adjusted plus/minus, which keeps teammate quality and opponent quality as a control. Not too shabby at all. (Interestingly enough, Shawn Marion is second on the team in APM for a one-year sample size, although Jason Kidd trumps him in two-year production.)
  • And a bonus stat: if you take a look at the players in the league with the highest defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions for an individual player), you’ll find two Mavs in the top four. Coming in at number four is the understated Erick Dampier, who does more for the Mavs’ D than he will ever get credit for. But at number three? Dirk Nowitzki. It’s an imperfect metric, but it does speak to how far Dirk has come since his early days in Dallas.
  • All things considered, this is a solid attempt at recreating Dirk’s visage through hair. Yes, I just typed that.
  • Jason Kidd has blocked more shots this season than Brad Miller.
  • Pops Mensah-Bonsu, one-time Maverick and former fan favorite, finds himself cut from yet another team. A tough break for a good guy, and one with NBA-level talent at that.
  • As predicted, the Nets waived Sean Williams today as part of the Hump-Najera swap. Could they go for the twofer and cut Shawne Williams before the stroke of midnight?
  • Josh Howard (thigh) is practicing again and Drew Gooden should be active for Wednesday’s game against the Lakers, but Tim Thomas is now among the walking wounded after landing on Gooden’s foot during practice.
  • Eric Freeman (who has succeeded Bethlehem Shoals over at The Baseline) on Eddie Najera as journeyman (featuring a quote from Najera originally from Chris Tomasson of FanHouse): “‘That would be the icing on the cake to go to a championship (contender),’ said Najera, speaking by phone from New Jersey, where he had been sent home from the Nets’ road trip. ‘Of course, if this opportunity (to go to Dallas) happens, then I would be really happy. But if it doesn’t, I also would be happy.’ This says less about Najera’s specific feelings about the teams and more about the life of a journeyman. When you’ve moved several times over your career, you learn to find the good in every situation. Maybe that turns playing professional basketball into more of a job than a dream, but it’s also the best way to stay sane.”
  • Mark and Sebastian over at NetsAreScorching are getting to know Kris Humphries a little better, thanks to a little help from yours truly. Venture over and see if there’s anything I missed, and feel free to leave your own thoughts on Hump’s game in the comments at NAS.
  • Najera on the trade (via Mark Francescutti at the DMN): “I think I’m the type of player that can perform on winning teams,” Najera told New Jersey media members. “Obviously, right now, [the Nets] need playmakers and I’m not that type of guy. We need one-on-one guys and I’m not that type of guy…I’m the guy that’s going to keep his mouth shut, have a good attitude and always come to work when he’s healthy and try to help win ball games.”
  • M. Haubs of The Painted Area on the Mavs’ team rebounding: “Slightly surprised the Mavs are not a better rebounding team currently. Have a great collection of rebounders on the roster, especially above-average rebounders at perimeter positons (Marion, Kidd, Howard). Granted, Howard has been dinged up, but still think Dallas should be better on the boards. Can’t ask much more from the center positon, where Dampier and Drew Gooden have been pounding the glass this season. Coach Carlisle needs to find a way to get some better rebounding efforts outside the 5-spot. Kidd is playing the same amount minutes as last year (35.6), but averaging one less rpg than last year. Not to mention, Shawn Marion is having the worst rebounding year of his career. Also, Dirk has slowly seen his reb. production decline over the last few years. Suffice to say, Dallas has been underachieving on the boards thus far, but the raw talent is there to improve internally.”

One of Those Nights

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 4, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

A rough night for the Mavs, needless to say. And to make matters worse (or just more entertaining, really), they couldn’t even properly execute a high five without some Laker interference:

Smooth, Adam. Smooth.

H/T: Ball Don’t Lie, Oh Me Oh My, The Jello’s Jigglin’

Dallas Mavericks 106, Memphis Grizzlies 101: Abridged

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 26, 2009 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images.

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot Chart — GameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOr
Dallas91.0116.556.124.425.69.9
Memphis111.045.533.040.013.2

Success is not a place at which one arrives but rather the spirit with which one undertakes and continues the journey.
-Alex Noble

*A quick programming note. From now on, the four factors values will be precise, empirical calculations rather than estimations. The calculated values are courtesy of HoopData.com‘s more detailed box scores, which will also be linked (when available) as the game box score.

  • While this afternoon’s game was night a contest of great statistical achievement on the defensive end (the Mavs’ defensive efficiency on the night was 11.4 points/100 possessions lower than their season average), something must be said about the Mavs’ ability to limit Zach Randolph after his early domination. A tandem of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol is not one that’s easy to counter, due to their high/low post interchangeability and the combination of strength and touch. Both players can show a little range and can certainly get things done on the low block, and though Gasol had merely a productive first half, Randolph was off the charts. Zeebo had 19 points in the first quarter and five early in the second, but over the game’s final 33:40, Randolph managed to score just six points. While it only slowed the Grizzlies enough for the Mavs to scrape out a lead, it took away Memphis’ most dominant offensive weapon at the time. That kind of thing completely changes the flow of the game, and the nine point deficit at the time was reversed into a five point positive margin.
  • Shawn Marion (10 points, seven rebounds) bounced back from his worst game of the season by playing a very productive 25 minutes. That said, his minutes didn’t necessarily come easy, as Rudy Gay (22 points on 22 shots, 10 rebounds) simply could not be denied. Marion had good defensive positioning time and time again, made a little contact to push Gay away from his shot of choice, and yet Rudy would lean or elevate before finishing possession after possession with a make. What’s a bit odd is that Marion left the game with 3:27 left in the third quarter and never returned, despite throwing down a pair of dunks and creating extra possessions with his hustle.
  • A lot of the Mavs’ early defensive sequences ended tragically: Dallas would play 10-20 seconds of pretty incredible defense (nice on-ball pressure, ball denial, perfect rotations) before one of the Grizz would force up a shot, only to see Gasol, Gay, or Randolph pull in an offensive rebound for a clear bucket or a fresh shot clock. Considering that the starting lineup features four solid to great rebounders by position, that’s not a result I would expect on a regular basis. Still, this isn’t the first time the Mavs have been shown up on the boards (the final margin was 49-40 in favor of Memphis, who also won the offensive rebounding battle 20-10), and while I’m not quite ready to call it a recurring problem, it’s something to keep under your pillow.
  • Drew Gooden missed the game with back spasms, and as a result, Dirk saw some minutes at center and Kris Humphries was pulled out from beneath the couch. Hump can be such a positive force for this team, but the man is simply the master of the anticlimactic possession. I appreciate his efforts on the boards, but it’s a bit disheartening to watch all of his work end in a blown layup attempt. Keep doing what you do, Hump, but hopefully next time you’ll be doing what you do just a little bit better.
  • The Mavs looked completely incapable of defending the rim without Erick Dampier in the game. I don’t know if it’s primarily a shift in coverages or just a perceived shift on part of the opposition, but Rudy Gay danced down the lane for slams whenever Damp took a breather on the bench.
  • Promising offensive nights from both Jason Terry (23 points, 7-18 FG, five assists) and Josh Howard (11 points, 4-6 FG). JET took every touch as a personal invitation to attack the rim, and Terry and the Mavs reaped the benefits later as a more confident JET made plays of consequence. In addition, Jason looked to expand his on-court contributions beyond the points column, and his playmaking in the two man game or after penetration opened up new wrinkles of the Maverick offense. All of a sudden Shawn Marion was wide open and in position to score, and Dirk Nowitzki was left all alone at the top of the key or out on the wing. Josh’s totals don’t demand your attention, but his 25 minutes were an exercise in minimalism. He didn’t over-dribble, he didn’t hold the ball too long, and he didn’t think too much after receiving the ball. Howard looked completely in the flow of the game without feeling the need to dominate the ball, and while the Mavs should certainly expect more raw production out of Howard, they can still appreciate his discretion.
  • The Mavs shot and scored at a terrific rate, but they simply did not get to the free throw line. Excluding six late FTAs during the game’s final moments, the Mavs attempted just 14 free throws on the game, less than half of the Grizzlies’ 29. That said, it’s not safe to assume that the discrepancy is attributable to the Mavs’ shot selection; against the Grizz, the Mavs shot 22 attempts at the rim (with 15 makes), which is comparable to their season average of 24.6 attempts (with 14.7 makes).
  • The Mavericks took care of the ball. 9.9 is a pretty ridiculous turnover rate (As a reminder, TOR is equal to the percentage of a team’s possessions that end in a turnover. Atlanta is the most careful team in the league, and their average is 20.3.), and it’s a testament to the Mavs’ efficient offense that they were able to finish with such a number in spite of Dirk’s abnormal four turnovers.
  • Dirk Nowitzki (20 points, 10-16 FG, four rebounds, three assists) was as wonderful as you’d expect, even if he was a bit more turnover-prone than usual. But for those of you looking for a storyline, this game wasn’t about what Dirk did, but what he didn’t have to do. Seven Mavericks scored in double figures, and Dirk didn’t score a point over the game’s final 15 minutes. Terry, Howard, and company were ready and willing to take over, and they closed the game beautifully.
  • Only two teams in the Western Conference have yet to lose ten games. One of them is Los Angeles (23-5), reigning champions and resident “team-to-beat.” The other is Dallas (21-9).

Shot location data courtesy of HoopData.com.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 22, 2009 under xOther | 3 Comments to Read

  • First, a brief explanation is in order. I’ve been under the weather with what I thought was a little flu bug for the last few days. Turns out it’s more the real deal than a little bug, and just to make things interesting, my immune system decided to stick me with mono as well. So the last three days have been a cycle of listless, semi-conscious floating, and heavily-medicated slumber. I’m looking to kick things up a notch moving forward and hopefully not die. Thanks for your patience.
  • Marc Spears touches on all of the current Mavs-centric storylines (Dirk’s injury, veteran leadership, team depth), as well as a few that loom in the near future (Dirk’s status as a potential free agent, Chris Bosh as a possible free agent target). There are some terrific quotes from just about every Maverick party, so be sure to check it out.
  • A bummer courtesy of Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski: “Dallas 2nd round pick, 6-9 Ahmad Nivins of St. Joe’s, tore ACL in knee for Manresa of Spanish ACB on Saturday and will miss rest of season…Nivins played for Mavs in Vegas in July and signed in Spain with Dallas blessing. Had played well in elite Euro league. Surgery this week.” Nivins is averaging 7.8 points (60.4% FG) and 4.2 rebounds per game for Suzuki Manresa this season.
  • No infection for Dirk’s elbow. Party time.
  • Marc Stein likes the idea of resting Dirk for one more game, regardless of whether or not Nowitzki thinks he’s ready to go: “It’ll allow Nowitzki to have a full week off before making his comeback in Saturday’s matinee against Memphis on the day after Christmas. He’ll hate sitting out that long, but it’s probably the best thing for an elbow that is still way too sore to allow him to shoot the ball properly or absorb any sort of significant contact….It’ll give Josh Howard, Drew Gooden and Sunday hero Tim Thomas one more game to inherit all of Dirk’s shots and touches and build on what they did to the Cavs. Thomas got most of the attention with 22 points and seven boards starting in Nowitzki’s place, but Gooden’s 10-point first half and 12 points, eight boards and two blocks overall will be recorded as his first double-figure scoring game all month after five double-doubles in November.”
  • How to make a Dallas Mavericks steak.
  • Rick Carlisle on Tim Thomas’ willingness to change his role to fit team needs (via Eddie Sefko): “I talked to him before the Miami game that Josh [Howard] being back was going to affect everybody’s minutes…It may be erratic when he plays. But he just said, ‘Hey, I appreciate you talking to me about it and I’ll be ready.’ “
  • A little Lord of the Rings, a little Mavs-Blazers…hey, why not?

Houston Rockets 116, Dallas Mavericks 108

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 19, 2009 under Recaps | 6 Comments to Read

Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images.

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot Chart — GameFlow

There’s such a thin line between winning and losing.
-John R. Tunis

Sometimes a game flows like the scripted word, with a rhythm, climax, and resolution that unfold seamlessly. All is right in the world as the good guys win and the bad guys falter, with no doubt in anyone’s mind as to who was the victor. Heroes are born, legends are written, and everything fits neatly into archetypal form.

But others are written like a biting satire. They make mockery of everything we think to be true, and rely on that defiance and a departure from the expected to prove some kind of point. There may be heroes, but winning the day is hardly an assumption.

From a Maverick perspective, the game would certainly be described as the latter.

After just ten minutes of play, a collision between Dirk Nowitzki and Carl Landry left Dirk with a deep laceration on his arm and Landry minus three teeth (according to Marc Stein, pieces of two of those teeth were actually in Nowitzki’s arm). Neither returned, and the game’s narrative structure had set a prime opportunity for the Mavs to prove their Rocketsesque mettle; Dallas would have to win without their primary scorer, their undisputed best player, and their leader. The cast of characters included: Jason Kidd (the wise sage), Jason Terry (the sidekick with an iron will), Josh Howard (the returning hero), Erick Dampier (the rock, the guide), Shawn Marion (the unwavering defender), J.J. Barea (the seemingly overmatched hero), and Tim Thomas (the rogue with a heart of gold). The stage was set for an epic tale of loss and redemption and triumph in the face of adversity.

And though the game lacked any kind of rhythm or pacing whatsoever, it seemed bound for the fairytale ending. With the Mavs trailing by four points with just over a minute remaining, Shawn Marion stripped Trevor Ariza on what looked to be an easy bucket for the Rockets. After running the floor in transition, Marion was left wide open by the scrambling Houston defense, and Jason Kidd rewarded his efforts with a feed for an easy bucket. And once Aaron Brooks missed one free throw to plant hope in the Maverick huddle, Rick Carlisle drew up a doozie of a play. After some misdirection by Jason Kidd and Jason Terry and a nice shot fake, Tim Thomas was left with a wide open look from the corner. Nothing but net, and the Mavs had one shot to make a defensive play and send the game into overtime.

Shawn Marion, who had been terrific on defense all night, demanded the assignment of guarding the red-hot Aaron Brooks. According to Kidd, Marion insisted that with his height and length he could bother Brooks on the drive or on the shot, and he couldn’t have been more right. Brooks passed up a shot attempt with a taller defender in front of him, and Marion forced him into an out-of-control dive toward the basket that ended with Shawn standing triumphant and a Rockets turnover with .4 seconds to play. The stage for the miracle had been set, but Jason Kidd’s lob was a bit off the mark, and Shawn Marion’s alley-oop layup attempt a bit short as a result.

But in most cases, overtime periods carry only false hope for short-handed teams. With Dirk nowhere in sight, the Mavs certainly qualify, and what had been a tremendous run by the remaining Mavs quickly spiraled into an emotional explosion. Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry continued to run their offense with confidence, and the Mavs provided themselves no opportunity for catharsis by missing jumper after jumper. Ultimately, the game’s defining sequence featured the Mavs down six with a minute to play, and a bit of hope as Erick Dampier began to elevate for a dunk attempt. But rather than rise and finish with a momentum-shifting slam, Dampier was pulled down by the shoulders by Aaron Brooks, who made no play on the ball whatsoever. Brooks was assessed a flagrant one, and in the ensuing video replay aftermath, the officiating crew also assessed a technical foul to Erick Dampier. It was Damp’s second tech of the night, and despite the fact that the elbow is virtually invisible on video, it warranted Damp’s automatic ejection. From then on, finishing the game was a mere formality.

It was a bizarre sequence, and according to Mark Cuban, one that doesn’t follow the letter of the rulebook (only flagrant two fouls are eligible for video review, and Brooks was assessed a flagrant one). But such a sequence only illustrated the value of a single basket in a close game. Regardless of who was right and who was wrong in their assessment of whatever it is that happened on that play, the Mavs had wasted two and a half quarters worth of opportunities. With no Dirk Nowitzki to balance the offense and no cohesion to the team defense, the Mavs looked beyond helpless. Kyle Lowry (a career high 26 points, 10 assists, and a career high-tying five steals) and Aaron Brooks (23 points, six assists) were simply too proficient, and with both on the court, the Mavs lacked the speed to combat their penetration into the lane and separation for jumpers. Meanwhile, Jason Terry struggled from the field (6-15 FG) and didn’t have command of his usual basketball savvy. Josh Howard started the game terribly before finally getting his act together in time to help the Mavs mount a run. And though Erick Dampier’s work on the glass and on defense was, frankly, game-changing (three blocked shots, seven offensive rebounds, and 14 total rebounds), his reinforcements (Drew Gooden and Kris Humphries) failed to defend or produce in any meaningful way. After Dirk left the game, the odds were not stacked in the Mavs’ favor, and until the final run of the fourth quarter, the responded with lethargic D and sloppy offensive execution.

The finale was poignant and demonstrative. It was a sign to the Mavs that coasting isn’t acceptable, and that refusing to play to your potential will only end in heartbreak. Dallas’ efforts were all for naught, and though Dirk’s absence provides a convenient scapegoat, the message here makes no mention of fighting valiantly. Rather, the point is this: Although the Mavs have come so far in terms of their defense and clutch execution, this is still a work in progress. This is still a team that has plenty to learn from a game that has plenty to teach, and regardless of just how high you’ve climbed, every game has the potential to be a humbling experience.

  • J.J. Barea was instrumental in keeping this game competitive. He finished with 23 points on 8-15 shooting, with his couple of turnovers balanced by some pretty timely shots.
  • The Mavs and the Rockets shot an identical 8 of 20 from three, but you would have never guessed it based on their impact. Each Maverick long ball was powerful, but the Rockets’ makes were of monumental importance. Brooks’ final shooting numbers (8 for 20 from the field) may not be sterling, but that man is a master of the momentum-killing three-pointer.
  • Jason Kidd didn’t have a great defensive night, but he does so many things for the Mavs when he’s on the court. His work out of the post against Brooks gave the Mavs a fighting chance in overtime, and though the Dallas offense was anything but smooth, Kidd still contributed with 11 rebounds, 10 assists, four steals, and two blocks.
  • The Rockets killed the Mavs with their ability to quickly shift into the transition game, and only when the Mavs began to counter the fast break did they make any headway whatsoever.
  • Kyle Lowry was sensational. Seriously.
  • The Mavs tried their hand at some zone, with mixed results. It seemed to at least slow down the Rockets, but the Mavs surrendered too many offensive rebounds because of the lack of box-out accountability. On top of that, David Andersen (16 points) and Luis Scola (19 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) have the range to be zone busters, and Lowry and Brooks were able to lure away chunks of the zone to leave jumpers open for the taking.
  • Emotions were running high as the Mavs put pressure on the Rox late in this one. A tech for Jason Kidd and David Andersen for a little scuffle, two Ts on Erick Dampier (one for the alleged elbow, and another for Damp breaking his usually stoic demeanor to argue a non-call), two Ts on Rick Carlisle, and one T to the talkative Josh Howard.
  • Shawn Marion really put the shackles on Kevin Durant the other night, but this may have been an even more impressive defensive performance. He wasn’t quite as consistent, but he made huge defensive plays with the game hanging in the balance.
  • Dirk Nowitzki is considered questionable for Sunday due to the deep lacerations in his elbow, and Carl Landry will see a surgeon tomorrow.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 12, 2009 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • We’re just a hop and a skip into the season, and former Mav Brandon Bass and almost Mav Marcin Gortat are in Marc Stein’s list of the top five players most likely to be moved. It’s strange how these things work out.
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, Vladimir Vysotsky, and Gerald Green. It all makes sense, trust me. (via A Stern Warning)
  • The Mavs are tied for the most road wins in the Western Conference.
  • The JET has only good things to say about Erick Dampier (via Eddie Sefko): “The big fella has to play, plain and simple…We got to have Erick Dampier on the court. I don’t care what team we’re playing against – big lineup, little lineup, what have you. He has to be out there. He’s having an outstanding year, and whatever we have to do to keep him out there, we have to do.”
  • Erick Dampier himself on his success within the offense (also via Sefko): “We know teams aren’t going to leave Dirk or Jet…On the pick and roll, if I set a good pick, it’s going to be either a walk-in layup or open jumper for the guard or a dunk for me…That’s just basic basketball. We don’t have to make it complicated.”
  • J.J. Barea has had his fair share of struggles, but you wouldn’t know it after last night’s game. Barea was a game-changer, and in the locker room, he was treated like one.
  • That Tim Thomas issue? A non-issue.

For the Benefit of Mr. Thomas

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 10, 2009 under Commentary, News | 5 Comments to Read

You know, you and I are alike. We both like the basketballing. And judging by the fact that you made it to my little site here, I’ll venture as far as to say that you have a genuine interest in the Dallas Mavericks and the NBA. On top of that, if you’re like me, you read and immediately compartmentalized yesterday’s news of Tim Thomas’ alleged misconduct without much thought. This is Tim Thomas, after all.

A few hours later, it finally hit me: we are so much better than that. We’re better than that as fans, as people, and especially as citizens of the internet age. The interwebs are hardly a court of law, but shouldn’t we have given this guy even the slightest benefit of the doubt? Or at bare minimum, wait until all the facts had been revealed before we passed judgment and took our jabs? The answer is more than obvious, and it’s a pity that it took some honest reflection and a clarification of the facts to incite that reaction in me.

Honestly, I have absolutely no clue what transpired at a Dallas Denny’s at 3 A.M., and unless you’re Tim Thomas, a Denny’s employee, Roger Emrich, or Damien Pettie, you don’t either. Maybe Thomas is as innocent as Emrich’s account reveals, or maybe he’s not. But until the puzzle pieces fall into place, can we for one second assume that Tim Thomas isn’t at the bottom of everything? Thomas has pissed off his fair share of coaches, he’s alienated himself from teammates and fan bases, and he’s earned a pretty penny with marginal production to show for it.

All of that said, Thomas doesn’t have a history of legal troubles. His biggest off-court indiscretions can claim only locker room chemistry or his own ceiling as victims. But somewhere down the line, anecdotes of Thomas’ unfulfilled potential, ‘unique’ brand of sportsmanship, and attitude problems merged to create a living, evolving label. But rather than evolve to fit Thomas’ nomadic career path, that label has snowballed beyond the inconvenience of truth. This type of behavior is exactly what we expected out of the cartoony caricature of Thomas that’s been constructed from his rep alone, a testament to the unreasonable power of both hearsay and expectation.

You’d think after a spring and summer of he-said-she-said and faked pregnancies that we Mavs fans would know better by now. But Tim Thomas was a believable villain. It’s not right and it’s not fair, and regardless of whether Tim is innocent or guilty, he deserves better.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 9, 2009 under xOther | 3 Comments to Read

  • No formal recap again, I don’t quite have time to do it justice (hooray for finals!). But for those of you still looking to get your Mavs-Suns fix, check back tomorrow for some video content.
  • There’s no rush to get Josh Howard back into the starting lineup, which could mean more starting opportunities for J.J. Barea.
  • Will Cantrell of Bright Side of the Sun makes an astute observation: in terms of the box score, last night’s game really could not have been any more even.
  • Rick Carlisle on the back-up PG rotation now that Josh Howard is back logging minutes at the 2 (via Eddie Sefko): “It’s going to be competitive between Roddy and J.J. for minutes…That’s great for those guys. It’ll make them better and make our team better.” It’s going to be hard for Beaubois to prove he deserves the burn with just table scraps of playing time.
  • The Mavs once allowed the Suns to get the upper hand by refusing to foul when up three. This time the Mavs, and Jason Terry, didn’t make the same mistake. JET fouls Nash, and then intentionally misses a free throw to deny Phoenix a prime opportunity to move the ball up-court on an inbounds pass. Maybe the Suns would have made a (better) shot or maybe the wouldn’t have, but it’s a good thing that we never have to know.
  • Tim Thomas insists on making me the fool. First the turnovers, and now a Denny’s.
  • Dirk, in the face of non-basketball anxiety, is apparently a binge eater.